“Massey Theatre announces 2021/22 season.”
The words would seem ordinary enough if you hadn’t been on the rollercoaster ride that was – and is – the COVID-19 pandemic.
The upcoming season at New Westminster’s iconic theatre is bursting with diverse performances designed to draw people back out of their homes and into the rows of red seats that have waited unoccupied for so long.
For executive director Jessica Schneider, the words that appear in a press release announcing the new season – words like “excited” and “overjoyed” – couldn’t be more true.
“We are so proud to have made it through this pandemic as an organization,” she said. “We’ve pulled together one of our most exciting programs ever to bring people back to cultural experiences.”
The theatre was forced to cancel – or re-envision – most of its plans for the 2020/21 season after COVID-19 first brought live performance to a halt last March.
In the summer, the theatre started inviting audiences back in again for a series of small-scale performances coming out of artist residencies. By the fall of 2020, it was able to offer a handful of live performances, with audiences maxed out at 50 in the theatre’s 1,260 seats – until provincial health restrictions tightened again in November and nixed all live performances once again.
BILL HENDERSON, MARTHA WAINWRIGHT ONSTAGE
With its return season this fall, the theatre is set to offer a performance by Canadian rock icon Bill Henderson, of Chilliwack fame – whose originally planned shows at the Massey were cancelled in November.
The season also includes shows by singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright and iskwē, a Cree Métis musical artist and storyteller who’s set to bring her solo tour to the Massey stage in March 2022. International Guitar Night will also return to the Massey in January 2022 with an eclectic lineup of international acoustic guitarists: Lulo Reinhardt of Germany, Stephanie Jones of Australia, Alexandr Misko of Russia, and Eleanora “Lele” Strino of Italy.
Folk-rock band The Fugitives will team up with the dancers of Ballet B.C. and spoken word performer Brendan McLeod for Over the Ridge, a multidisciplinary concert that examines the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge, in the spring of 2022.
The Massey’s return season also includes its share of laughter.
Comedy star Shaun Majumder brings his new show, the LOVE tour, to the stage in February – the followup to his acclaimed 2019 tour, HATE, which also played the Massey.
And, for a two-week run in February, Massey audiences will get to experience a remount of the Arts Club Theatre Company’s pre-pandemic hit Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s classic play-within-a-play farce.
The Massey Theatre has also announced an upcoming performance of Hot Brown Honey, the smash hit from Australia that combines hip hop, performance art, spoken word and social activism in what’s billed as a “genre-defying firecracker of a show.” It, too, had been planned to play the Massey in May 2020 before the pandemic put paid to that plan. Now, the show’s new tour will bring it to the Massey stage in the fall of 2022.
Tickets for the new season are on sale now. COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, and fewer than 50% of seats are being sold until reopening guidelines are in place for each date.